News / Science & Technology

Juno Spacecraft Launches Toward Jupiter

The Juno spacecraft launched aboard an Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Friday, Aug. 5, 2011
The Juno spacecraft launched aboard an Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Friday, Aug. 5, 2011

The U.S. space agency launched the Juno spacecraft from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida Friday, beginning a five-year journey to Jupiter.  

"3,2,1. Ignition and liftoff of the Atlas 5 [rocket] with Juno on a trek to Jupiter, a planetary piece of the puzzle on the beginning of our solar system," said a NASA commentator.

Juno is now on its way toward Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.  NASA scientists hope this $1.1 billion mission will help them answer some key questions about the way Jupiter - and the solar system - evolved.  

Jupiter is believed to have been the first planet to form in our solar system.  Juno's eight instruments will study Jupiter's magnetic and gravity fields, as well as the composition of the planet's atmosphere and its core.  

Water is a varying factor in many theories about the way planets formed, and, by knowing the amount of water in Jupiter's planetary makeup, scientists can rule out some existing theories of planetary evolution.

During the next five years, the solar-powered Juno will spin through space, beyond Mars and the asteroid belt.  

Scott Bolton is the principal investigator in the Juno mission.  He told reporters at a pre-launch briefing that Juno will spend one year in polar orbit around Jupiter, beginning in 2016.  Juno will get closer to Jupiter than any spacecraft before it.  

"We're only 5,000 kilometers above the cloud tops, and so we're skimming right over those cloud tops, and we're actually dipping down beneath the radiation belts, which is a very important thing for us because those radiation belts at Jupiter are the most hazardous region in the entire solar system, other than going right to the Sun itself," said Bolton.

The Juno spacecraft has three solar arrays loaded with solar cells.  It is the first spacecraft to travel that far on solar, not nuclear, energy.

The Italian Space Agency, as well as partners in Belgium, France and Denmark, contributed components to the Juno craft and instruments.

Juno is also carrying a plaque that pays tribute to the famous Italian astronomer, Galileo Galilei, who made important discoveries about Jupiter and its moons in the 17th Century.

Lest you think scientists who study Jupiter are all work and no play, they have placed three pocket-sized Lego figurines on Juno.  One represents Galileo, and the figurine even carries a miniature telescope.  The other two Lego figurines represent the Roman god Jupiter and goddess Juno.  According to mythology, Jupiter cloaked himself in clouds to hide his high jinks from Juno, but she was able to clear away the cloud cover to see just what Jupiter was up to - much like the Juno craft is expected to do.  

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More